During her six years at Baylor, Whitney Canion gave everything she had to the softball team, her classwork and the community.
The All-American pitcher was rewarded Thursday by earning Big 12 female sportsperson of the year.
Oklahoma offensive lineman Gabe Ikard was named male sportsperson of the year. Since 2000-01, the Big 12 has honored student-athletes who display excellent sportsmanship, community service and academic achievement.
Canion overcame two injury-shortened seasons to become the most decorated softball player in Baylor history. The ace left-hander capped her career by becoming the only first-team All-American in school history as she finished her senior year with a 31-12 record to lead the Lady Bears to the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series.
“Whitney is the standard for Baylor University student-athletes,” Baylor softball coach Glenn Moore said. “Not only is she one of the better players to ever come through our program or conference, but she also is a great, serving person and consistently excelled in the classroom. I’m proud for her to be honored in this way because it recognizes that she was more than just a ballplayer.”
Canion learned of the honor Thursday morning when she received numerous calls and text messages on her cell phone. She’s doing a marketing internship this summer at BNSF Railway in Fort Worth.
“I found out through my phone blowing up,” Canion said. “(Former Baylor teammate) Linsey Hays said, ‘You don’t even go here any more and you’re still getting awards.’ The Big 12 honor is pretty awesome and rewarding.”
Canion received her bachelor’s degree in business administration and is scheduled to complete her master’s degree in sport management in August.
She was a Capital One/CoSIDA academic All-America second team selection this year. She was named to the Big 12 commissioner’s honor roll 12 times, and was a four-time academic all-Big 12 first-team selection.
Throughout her career, Canion was an active member of the Central Texas community. She was a semifinalist for the 2014 Wooden Citizenship Cup Award. She served as a past president of the Baylor student-athlete advisory committee and has been a member of the Baylor Sports Management Association the past two years.
Her community projects included the Mission Waco walk for the homeless, the Baylor athletics canned food drive and a Panama mission trip. Canion has also served with Team USA softball camps, Feed My Starving Children, Food for Families and Operation Christmas Child.
“It has never been just about the game,” Canion said. “I started community service and really enjoyed it. I can’t count the number of times Coach Moore asked me to speak somewhere. I’m glad I got to help not just the Waco community but also younger softball players as well.”
Canion finished her Baylor career with a school-record 123 wins and 1,473 strikeouts. She led the Lady Bears to two World Series appearances, including the 2011 semifinals when she made second-team All-American.
Canion is the fifth Baylor athlete to win the Big 12 sportsmanship award as she joins Jessika Stratton (women’s basketball, 2003-04), Mamadou Diene (men’s basketball, 2007-08), Melissa Jones (women’s basketball, 2010-11), and Robert Griffin III (football, 2011-12).